Friday, 17 September 2010

A Flat Tummy

I have been asked by a member of my family "What is the best way to get rid of stomach fat?" It's the ultimate goal for weight loss isn't it, a flat tummy and, if you want, washboard Abs! After doing a bit of research on the Interwebs and reading what I've picked up from Gyms in the past, unfortunately the best way to get a flat stomach is to get your heart rate going. you need to mainly do Cardiovascular (Heart, Lungs and Circulation) exercise, running, jogging, walking, dancing, swimming, skipping (jump rope) or cycling.

I found that this site here had a lot of very handy tips. As it says, you can do as many sit ups and crunches as you like, but if you've still got a layer of fat covering them they're going to be hidden. By all means do the sit ups and stomach toning but you need to get rid of the fat first!!

The method that a lot of fad diet sites - and people trying to sell you expensive equipment - use is to tell you that by targeting one specific area of the body you only lose weight in that area of the body. It's not true at all, it's called 'Spot Toning' and it's a gimmick. You can’t just target one area to lose fat from, the fat isn't contained in neat little bags that you empty one at a time. It's like a bath full of water, if you take some out of the middle then the level of the whole bath goes down. If you do Cardio work then the fat level of the entire body goes down, there's no quick solution for a flat stomach I'm afraid!

A good tip one of my friends told me, and it seems to be repeated in quite a few health sites, was that you can start out walking to get your heart pumping, then jog for a while then walk again until you've got your breath back then jog again. Repeat until you get back home and your heart and lungs would have had a really good exercise. I think this method is called 'Interval training'. This site here has a pretty good explanation. I’d also suggest having a poddle around the rest of the site, it’s got quite a few good articles but, like a lot of the sites on bodybuilding, some of the advice can be a bit extreme and full of supplements!

The NHS website has this advice for Cardio exercise:

"Adults should get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, five days a week."

The trick is that if you don't have a spare half hour in your day, and I know a lot of people don't, split it into three 10 + minute workouts or brisk walks! The effects are cumulative, it all adds up during the day. I find this better to do, it makes you think you've been active all day rather than doing one big 30min push and then sitting down for the rest of the day!

The 'Flat Stomach' website I found has three great exercises, one for each part of you abdomen: upper, lower and obliques (sides or 'Love handles'). It's on the page called 'The Best Abdominal Exercises for a Flat Stomach' here. I am definitely doing these three, I want to tone as much as lose fat and these are very good low impact exercises. A word of advice to the ladies, doing the obliques too much can thicken your waist and make it look less feminine!

Talking of sit-ups there is a word of caution, they can be quite bad for you as they grind the vertebrae in your spine and could make things worse. Stick to crunches as a slightly better alternative, if you want to strengthen your lower back to help with back pain and posture these sites here, here, and here all have brilliant tips for lower back exercises.

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